Print vs. Digital Ads


By Diane Saatchi

A few years ago, a client called with a complaint.

Her friends who knew her house was for sale had asked why it wasn’t advertised.

That seemed … odd. I’d received several requests to show it just this week, I told her, from potential buyers who had seen ads on the internet and posts on social media.

 But she said:

“They picked up the East Hampton Star and they didn’t see an ad for my house.”

That exchange explains a lot about how brokers promote homes, and how clients feel about it. Brokers want to place ads where the buyers will notice. Sellers and their friends want to see ads in print media.

Some of this tension comes from familiarity. A client bought their house 30 years ago from an ad in the New York Times spotted en route to the crossword puzzle, and they expect buyers today to have a similar experience. But 30 years ago, we weren’t carrying around a suite of advanced technology at all times and fretting about the end of print media.

Things are different now, and businesses have to operate differently to accommodate those changes.


Why the best place to advertise is online

Today’s buyers aren’t waiting around for the classified section to print on Thursdays. They want dozens of high-resolution pictures, videos, maps, and information at their fingertips. When a new listing comes on the market or the price drops on a place they’ve been watching, they want to know immediately. Agents hear from customers within minutes of such postings.

Targeted digital ads are far and away the most effective means to market real estate, and chances are, sellers and their friends may never see those ads. We’re able to show digital ads to the people who might be most interested, find out whether they’ve seen them, get information on who has engaged with the ads, and figure out where to advertise next. The only eyes that matter on these ads are the eyes of people who might buy.

Brokers can advertise wherever the buyers are. I see great results from Facebook and Instagram, both through sponsored ads and social media posts. Brokers also use LinkedIn, Pinterest and Youtube. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear about colleagues experimenting with SnapChat, WhatsApp or Line.

Marketing real estate is changing so quickly that soon home shoppers will be able to use virtual reality to walk around inside a home and even virtually place their own furniture in it.

Online, it’s not just buyers who get immediate results and feedback. It’s also the brokers, who get to see exactly who is looking at their listings and how often, and who can pivot their approach accordingly. With a print flier or newspaper or magazine ad, on the other hand, you never know who saw it, or if anyone saw it at all.

It’s not just the medium — the medium is also the message. Online ads can tell a story, show the neighborhood, and even show how a house or property can look with different décor. In a minute or so, a video can show an entirely new house on a property. By sharing online ads, viewers can engage others in their searches.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an entirely different phone call from the one described above. A seller, or a seller’s kids or neighbors or friends, have seen their house on Facebook or Google or Instagram, and they’re thrilled. In the best cases, we can work together to incorporate their feedback and strategize exactly how to present the house, and where to best appeal to buyers and reach more interested eyes.

Print ads get listings; online ads sell homes

There are some ways print ads are still pretty effective: branding the individual broker or the brokerage itself.

Many sellers want to see their properties in print and as such, they’re more likely to list with agents whose ads they see in newspapers and glossy magazines and sales books.

But as beneficial as that is for the broker’s brand, when we have a listing, we’re not looking to advertise our services — we’re looking to sell a house, and the way to do that most effectively and efficiently is online. More and more these days, agents use print to get listings, but rely on cyberspace to attract buyers.

Remember: Brokers want to advertise your home where the buyers are. And the buyers are online.

© 2019 Diane Saatchi